The Books that Shaped Us: Revisiting Our Favorite Childhood Reads and Finding New Ones BY MacKenzie McCreary
It is probably no surprise to you that I’ve been reading since I could open my eyes. There is a running joke in my family that the reason I am so obsessed with books is because my father would read to me when I was a baby. He doesn’t like to take the blame for my book-buying addiction, but it really is all his fault.
As a kid, I remember my favorite place being the library at my elementary school and the book fairs were quite literally the highlight of my school life. Words can’t describe how sad I was when I found those didn’t exist in high school.
I would spend as much time as possible in the library, reading as much as I could. As “You’ve Got Mail’s” Kathleen Kelly said, “When you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading does.” I couldn’t agree more. Childhood reading makes us who we are — it helped us form opinions, make decisions and learn the most important lessons of life before we even knew it was all happening. Reading as a child is one of the most important experiences in a person’s life and I only hope that kids today are reading as much as they can.
I remember a group of very special books I read as a child that had such a large impact on me that I can’t help but go back and read them again and again.
These include a few well-known titles such as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Math Curse,” “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” “Strega Nona,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” and “The Rainbow Fish,”
Speaking of the ocean, Unsolicited Press published a very endearing children’s book earlier this year that send me back to the days I spent on a carpeted library floor reading “The Rainbow Fish.”
This new book is “James and the Super Gigantic Very Important Ocean Adventure to Save His Friends,” by Savannah Stewart. The sweet and educational story details the journey of a rag-tag group of ocean creatures to find a new home after a fishing boat sets up camp above their reef.
Not only did I learn something (reminder: you’re never too old to learn something new), but I also thoroughly enjoyed the story and its message to never give up.
This is why I love discovering new children’s books — it’s like having an espresso shot fun with friendly reminders thrown in. These stories are filled with adventure and life lessons and are presented in a much more unique and accessible way than general fiction.
But it’s not just picture books, it’s chapter books as well.
These were my favorite growing up because they felt like more of an adventure, which is really all we want as children. Some of my favorites were “Fever 1793,” “The BFG,” “Sideways Stories from Wayside School,” and, of course, The Magic Tree House series.
Last year, I made it my mission to read the entire “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” series. I had read up to book seven in elementary school and finally decided to finish what I started. Thirteen books in about three months. And I have to say, they are my new favorite book series. I can’t get enough of the complex yet accessible characters and the way they deal with adverse situations that I could never dream of encountering.
I recently saw the new “Goosebumps” movie and, although I thought the movie to be a bit underwhelming, it revived a strong desire in me to marathon-read the Goosebumps series. But maybe that has something to do with the Halloween season. Regardless, I am making this my new mission for next year, as I have only read two Goosebumps books.
While most of us are caught up in adult reading and trying to read all of the books on the New York Times Bestseller list, it’s healthy mentally rest our minds and enjoy some easy reading and some good stories. My first recommendation? “James and the Super Gigantic Very Important Ocean Adventure to Save His Friends.”
What were your favorite childhood books? Are there any you would recommend for us to read? Let us know in the comments and let us reminisce together.